Restructuring, migration and regional policy in South Africa : the case of Newcastle.
The thesis proposed to critique the neo-liberal perspective on regional policy in South Africa, and its emphasis on areas of strength and advantage, on two grounds. First, that it neglects processes of economic restructuring, and the possibility of place-specific decline or vulnerability. However, South Africa's increasing exposure to international markets, ongoing economic crisis, and political change, provide a context in which such conditions are likely. Secondly , these concerns are marginalised through the assumption that households can and do move out of areas experiencing restructuring or decline , or from places with weak economic bases. This assumption, however, ignores the limits to mobility in the current conjuncture, and the role of place in survival. The thesis critiques these arguments theoretically, and empirically - through a brief examination of the dynamics of restructuring and migration in KwaZulu-Natal, and a more detailed analysis of the case of Newcastle . The study of KwaZulu-Natal shows broad patterns of restructuring over the century, and points to new forms of instability in the 1990s. The research demonstrates that Newcastle has experienced several rounds of restructuring. While aggregate employment was relatively stable by the end of the 1980s, there had been a significant shift in the nature of economic activity and the composition of employment. Further rounds of restructuring coupled with employment decline - occurred in the 1990s, and key industrial sectors are shown to be vulnerable. The study of migration shows that, while there is a relationship between urbanisation and economic development in KwaZulu-Natal, there are also exceptions to it, with people remaining in, and even moving to places with weak or declining economic bases. The research did not find a complete, disjuncture ' between urbanisation and economic development in Newcastle. However, as, a consequence of past investments in place and limited opportunities elsewhere, low-income households remained in Newcastle despite restructuring. The study therefore shows that restructuring and place-vulnerability are concerns in South Africa, and that migration cannot be relied upon as a corrective. These findings underpin the need for a renewed consideration of social concerns within regional policy, and for moving beyond the 'efficiency' versus 'equity' dichotomy.